Recycle Right: CFLs Contain Mercury

March 25, 2021

The Recycle Right—CFLs Contain Mercury campaign is focused on educating the public about how and why to recycle the lightbulbs that contain mercury.

CFLs use one-third of the electricity, and last up to 10 times longer, than incandescent light bulbs. CFLs are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and reduce electricity bills—while lessening carbon footprints—but they should not be thrown into the trash.

Nationwide, more than 670 million mercury-containing bulbs are improperly discarded each year. In Montgomery County, CFLs that are thrown into the trash are often mixed with other waste and incinerated. The disposal method can lead to a release of mercury into the environment through breakage and leakage, and ultimately, contaminate the environment and food chain.

CFLs Contain Mercury

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs or CFLs are a great way to reduce your electricity bill while lessening your carbon footprint. However, these types of bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and should be handled carefully and disposed of properly at all times.

Please DO NOT throw them in the trash. Nationwide, over 670 million mercury-containing bulbs are discarded improperly each year. In Montgomery County most of these bulbs are ultimately land filled or incinerated. These disposal methods can lead to a release of mercury into the environment through breakage and leakage and ultimately contaminate the food chain.

Download and share the English/Spanish flyer here: CFL_Poster


Montgomery County accepts CFLs, tubes, and ballasts from your home at no additional charge at our Household Hazardous Waste dropoff at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.

Live in a municipality? Contact your local municipal office for additional information regarding CFLs recycling opportunities in your community.

Montgomery County has compiled this listing through various sources and does not present it as a complete directory of all organizations or companies, nor offer it as an endorsement of any of the organizations.

  • Hours of acceptance: vary by location
  • Cost: no charge
  • Quantity limits
    • Household Hazardous Waste Collection: no quantity limit
    • Community drop-off locations at retail stores: small quantities only

 See Google Map of drop-off locations

Location  Accepts bulb-style lights Accepts tube-style lights
Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station
Household Hazardous Waste drop-off
16101 Frederick Rd
Derwood, MD 20855
Yes Yes
Amicus Green Building Center
4080 A Howard Ave
Kensington, MD 20895
Yes No
Christopher’s Glen Echo Hardware
7301 MacArthur Blvd
Bethesda, MD 20817
Yes No
Christopher’s Hardware
500 Olney Sandy Spring Rd
Sandy Spring, MD 20860
Yes No
Home Depot #2509
7111 Westlake Terrace
Bethesda, MD 20817
Yes Yes 
Home Depot #2551
2300 Broadbirch Dr
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Yes – max. of 3 bulbs Yes – max. of 3 tubes
Home Depot #2558
14000 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20906
Yes No
Home Depot #2560
21010 Frederick Rd
Germantown, MD 20876
Yes No
10100 Baltimore Avenue
College Park, MD 20740
Yes No
Lowe’s of Gaithersburg
Store #0223
40 Market St
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Yes No
Old Takoma Ace Hardware
7001 Carroll Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Yes Yes
Poolesville Hardware & Propane
19961 Fisher Ave
Poolesville, MD 20837
Yes No
SHIMMER Salon & Spa @Traville Gateway
9734 Traville Rd Gateway Dr,
Rockville, MD 20850
Yes No
Silver Spring Ace Hardware
815 Wayne Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Yes No
Strosniders Hardware
10504 Connecticut Ave
Kensington, MD 20895
Yes No
Strosniders Hardware
6930 Arlington Rd
Bethesda, MD 20814
Yes No
White’s Hardware Of Olney
15508 Georgia Ave
Rockville, MD 20853
Yes No 
Zimmerman’s Ace Hardware
3801 Sandy Spring Rd
Burtonsville, MD 20866
Yes  Yes 


Where to SWAP CFL bulbs

Montgomery Energy Connection provides light bulb exchanges throughout the County. There will be some during the Spring/Summer months so check the CALENDAR for events.

The City of Gaithersburg will be hosting Free, Contactless Shredding Events this year where visitors will be able to drop off light bulbs in a designated bin. Please do not mix lightbulbs in with other E-waste as broken glass would be hazardous for handlers.

What to do if a CFL bulb breaks? 

CFLs and tubes contain a small amount of mercury. These instructions from the US EPA describe clean-up and disposal guidelines for broken fluorescent light bulbs.

Double-bag the broken CFL or tube in a re-sealable plastic bag and place in your household trash. Do not put CFLs or tubes into your recycling bin.

Are you a business?

If you have CFLs, tubes, or ballasts from your business, take them to the Hazardous Waste drop-off area at our Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.

  • Cost: $1.17 per bulb or 4-foot tube; $2.34 per 8-foot tube
  • No quantity limit

The Story of CFLs

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